- Legal sports betting in Florida seems unlikely as it would need approval by the Seminole Tribe to move toward before becoming law.
- FL SB 968 had no traction because it is not exclusive to the Tribe, allowing for other businesses to apply for licenses at a cost of $100,000 a license.
- With their casino businesses, the Seminole Tribe brings in hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the state of Florida.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Legal sports betting in Florida has a very small likelihood of becoming law in 2020. With one month left in the session, gambling on sporting events in the Sunshine State is not high on the list of priorities with the Legislature. Even more of an issue is how strongly Governor Ron DeSantis is against the legalization of betting on sports altogether.
Why Florida Won’t See Legal Sports Betting
Not only will there be no backing of the Governor but the majority vote on legal gaming in Florida comes down to two very big moneymakers; the Seminole Tribe, which has almost complete exclusivity on what happens when it comes to gambling in the state and Disney World. Now, Disney has no rule over sports betting legalization the way the tribe does but they are very much against it and hold a powerful influence.
Disney has put millions toward making sure that legal sports betting does not become a reality for sports bettors in Florida. The reasoning behind Disney’s stance is the belief of lost revenue at their amusement parks in Orlando as tourists might rather visit a sportsbook.
Lawmakers in Florida have generally listened to the people at Disney because of how much their existence contributes to the entire economy.
Unless lobbyists that are in favor of drawing up a bill to make gambling on sports legal that will please the Seminole Tribe in the process, there is really no point. It is a major roadblock that lawmakers would rather avoid with only a month left in the session. For the tribe to get on board, they would have to be extremely involved in the expansion, meaning they would need to have complete control over sports betting to even consider the idea.
Better Luck Next Year
Prefiled by Senate Committee member Jeff Brandes, FL SB 968 has since stalled out in the committee stage. The bill does not offer exclusive rights to the Tribe for sportsbook operations. It allows for both retail and internet platforms by licensed businesses.
Sports betting would be regulated by the Florida Lottery and the Seminole Tribe was not on board with this bill.
Their casino businesses in the state have been very lucrative so the idea of expanding into sportsbooks is not a pressing matter for them as they’re not in need of new revenue streams. If a referendum could be made to please both the tribe and lawmakers, then it would be put to a vote by the residents. However, the Seminoles would then go public to sway voters’ decisions on the matter.
Florida is part of the Trinity in the United States without legal sports betting. Texas and California fill out the trio. They are the three biggest states in the nation that have yet to embrace the legalization of gambling on sporting events. The Sunshine State could see as much as $155.7 million in annual revenue from the industry if it were to become legal.
The Legislative session in Florida ends on March 13 and legal sports betting does not look like it will become a realization in 2020 for the sports bettors in Florida.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.